It is easy in today’s sports world for athletes to lose connection with where they come from. In most cases it is because most small town athletes never play in their hometowns after high school and move to big cities with major teams. For Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder, home has never left his mind or heart. Due to the nature of professional boxing, having boxers fight all over the world, there is no specific place one has to live in order to compete. Growing up in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Wilder had a determination to make a name for himself and allowing nothing to get in his way. Wilder’s career couldn’t be better boasting an undefeated 31-0 record while winning all by knockout, but with all of his success home was always where he came back to.
Living his life by his own creed of “When you give God the glory, He’ll give you the victory,” Wilder has great confidence in what his abilities can achieve. No matter the success he humbly remembers from where he comes. When it came time to pick a location for his first promotional event “Young Guns”, there was only one suitable place, Tuscaloosa.
“Jay (Deas) actually gave me the opportunity to say ‘Hey what do you think about doing your show in Tuscaloosa teaming up with Skyy Promotions’ and I said yeah let’s do it,” Deontay Wilder said.
Young Guns is an event Wilder put together to help promote young amateur and up and coming professional boxers from the area. The event took place at Bowers Park in Tuscaloosa on April 5, 2014 and hosted well-known local boxers. Among the amateur boxers there was the 2013-14 Alabama Golden Glove Middleweight champion KeEric Hinton, while in the professional ranks Tuscaloosa’s own Keith Thompson fought in the second to last fight and Tuscaloosa native Keandrae “Lightning” Leatherwood headlined the event.
Fans were enthusiastic about the event from the first amateur fight at 7 pm to Keandrae Leatherwood’s main event at 10:30 pm. The fights were held to four rounds, except for the main event fight which was scheduled for six rounds, but despite the short length of the fights there were electric fights. There were four fights which ended before the conclusion of the first round, including Leatherwood’s astonishing knockout one minute and ten seconds into the main event. During local boxer, Keith Thompson’s fight the crowd began a chanting “Keith” in support of Thompson.
When Deontay Wilder walked into the ring to talk about his event, the roof came off the building. Many of the people may not have known who some of the boxers competing in the event where, but to have a local icon such as Wilder puts on a boxing event and doesn’t compete and still the event gets a good turn-out shows the level of admiration he has in the community.
“I’ve been talking about doing a promotion for a long time, and the opportunity presented itself. We came out with this and Young Guns, to me it’s a success,” Wilder said. “Do to the fact that people knew I wasn’t fighting and they still turned out and showed support and love, that means a lot to me and that meant a lot for the local fighters.”
Wilder took time out of a busy schedule to give back to the community he loves, to promote the young boxers but to also say thank you to his fans. As soon as he walked into the arena fans were running up to him for pictures and autographs and Wilder obliged everyone person who came up to him. Where most celebrities would sign a few items and snap a couple pictures, Wilder took the time to have true conversations with anyone that wanted to talk to him, and he himself walked around the entire gym thanking everyone for supporting the event.
In his professional career things could not be bigger at the moment, Wilder just defeated Malik Scott to move one step closer to the top of the boxing world. On May 10, 2014 his wait will finally be over when Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola fight to decide who will take Vitali Klitschko’s vacant title and fight Wilder to decide the champion. This will bring Wilder one step closer of achieving his dream of crowning Tuscaloosa its first ever heavyweight champion.
“It’s going to be a dream come true. I will definitely be there at that fight front and center to let the winner know here I am, here’s your prize. I don’t know if that’s a good prize or bad prize but this is what you get,” Wilder said. “We’ve come a long way, it’s been a long process, but it seems like every things gone by so fast. We are final here fighting for the major belt the WBC World title, to bring that back to Title Town is going to be crazy. We have had a lot of had a lot of national champions, we have never had a world champion. I’ve got to bring it back.”